Callum O’Dowda has ‘unfinished business’ ahead of Irish Nations League games

Callum O’Dowda doesn’t want to be remembered as a footballer who could have had a great international career.

The Cardiff midfielder narrowly missed out on a place in the Republic of Ireland squad that went to Euro 2016 as a 21-year-old but established himself as a regular in the years that followed.

However, the now 27-year-old has not represented his country since a 1-0 Nations League defeat in Wales in November 2020 as a series of injuries presented a frustrating obstacle to his advancement.

Speaking for his hopeful comeback against Scotland on Saturday, O’Dowda said: “I don’t want to be one of those guys when I retire and people say, ‘Injury marred his career’ or ‘He did it ‘ ‘Not fulfilling his potential due to injuries’.

“Touch Wood, this is the season I can get into and really get back to my best form if I play football regularly.”

He is doing just that in Wales, having ended his six-year stint at Bristol City this summer at the behest of Cardiff boss Steve Morison, only to see him sacked at the weekend after a 1-0 defeat in Huddersfield.

O’Dowda said, “I’m disappointed. I felt like we owed a lot as players to Steve Morison. He was the one who did it for me, he was the one who got it across the line.

“I have to be careful what I say, but I’m pretty disappointed with everything. But I think that’s football.”

In the meantime, O’Dowda will be looking to find the form that kept him in the mind of former Ireland coach Martin O’Neill up until the last minute, before announcing his squad would be traveling to France six summers ago.

Ireland’s Callum O’Dowda (Brian Lawless/PA)

(PA Archive)

When asked if he hadn’t fulfilled his potential with Ireland, he said: “I think that’s a fair comment.

“I feel like I have some work to do in a way, and the gaffer here [Stephen Kenny] was great with me with phone calls and checked me up to see how I was doing. I want to repay that loyalty he had towards me as I started some of his early games.

O’Dowda is also catching up on younger sister Jade, who won bronze for England behind compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the heptathlon at this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

He said: “I was very proud. It was lovely. I saw her in Birmingham and she did fantastic.”

He added with a smile: “They say she’s the right athlete.” Callum O’Dowda has ‘unfinished business’ ahead of Irish Nations League games

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